Since the first outbreak of COVID-19 in Fiji, the Salvation Army Lautoka has been a beacon of hope to many in the Waiyavi communities.
With direct impacts of the pandemic affecting the livelihood of many who have lost their jobs and have their hours reduced, the church, led by Captain Salesi Temo, have been there to provide comfort and support to the needy.“We have families coming in for help because there was no food to feed their families and we have been trying to assist them with whatever little we have,” Captain Salesi said.
“When the restrictions were limited and schools re-opened, we were providing lunch packs for students to help families who have no have no source of income.”
“We were delighted to have been selected as a project site for the response because whatever we received were of great help to the affected population in Waiyavi,” Captain Salesi said.
“We distributed seeds and we also planted them here in the church compound. Even before distributions, people are coming to ask for food from our garden and we are happy to share them considering the hardship they are going through.”
A retired military officer said he was grateful to the support received which provided food on the table for his family during the pandemic.
“My son works for Fiji Ports and he is the main breadwinner of the family. His hours were reduced due to COVID-19 and we struggled to put food on the table to cater for the 7 of us,” he said.
“I planted cassava but it would take time to harvest. One day we were given vegetable seeds and that was of great help to us. We had reduced the amount of food we eat and the vegetables supplies from the harvest helped us to at least save some money for our bills,” the 62 year-old said.
“We are not members of the church but we are grateful to have been assisted. We also shared our harvest with our relatives who were also going through a hard time.
”Today, the Salvation Army is also home to many young boys who have dropped out of school. “We have about 8 boys staying with us. Some of them do not have a home and have been living with relatives so I have brought them in to stay with us. Some have returned to school and travel daily from home,” Captain Salesi said.
“They have been really helpful to me because they plant and look after the garden. Harvests are still being distributed today.”
The Fiji Division The Salvation Army is part of the CAN DO consortium which is made up of 10 faith-based organizations. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Fiji is the secretariat for the CAN DO.